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Call of Duty: World at War (PlayStation 3) artwork

Call of Duty: World at War (PlayStation 3) review


"Call of Duty: World At War is a good example of money cow milking at work. Following the success of Call of Duty 4, the people behind Call of Duty must have thought “Let’s go back to World War II, except we’ll just port over this new system that people like!”, then proceed to churn out copies of World at War. The result is something that is barely redeemable as a game. "



Call of Duty: World At War is a good example of money cow milking at work. Following the success of Call of Duty 4, the people behind Call of Duty must have thought “Let’s go back to World War II, except we’ll just port over this new system that people like!”, then proceed to churn out copies of World at War. The result is something that is barely redeemable as a game.

World at War chronicles the deeds of the United States Marine Corps during their time fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, as well as the victories of the Red Army over the retreating Nazi armies. Having the Pacific battles in a game is a nice change from the typical World War II, which typically involves the player controlling a generic U.S Army soldier mowing down hundreds of Nazis. This is not to say that World at War is much different, but fighting the Japanese is a bit refreshing, at least cosmetically. World at War adds the banzai charge into gameplay, which involves Japanese soldiers hurling themselves, bayonet first, at the player. At this point, the player simply has to hit R3 and stab the Japanese soldier before being skewered. That really covers just about everything World at War has to offer in terms of innovation. WaW has done nothing to make the experience anymore realistic or enjoyable.

Being that Call of Duty games are typically pathetically easy, it would not be a mistake to start the game on veteran (hard) mode outright. The problem with doing this, however, is that many people simply won’t finish the game. This isn’t to say that the game is challenging at all. The main problem with the hard difficulty is that the enemies “grenade spam” the player. What this means is that the player often has to hide to regenerate health after being shot, and while they are doing so, the enemy typically lobs a grenade behind the cover. This is expected in most shooters, and the player simply moves to a different piece of cover. The problem with World at War, however is that the enemies do not simply throw a single grenade. Often times, players often hide that a single enemy has unleashed a barrage of five hand grenades on them, literally giving the player no place to run, since they seem always to surround the player perfectly. Providing that the player somehow escapes the grenade circle, he is quickly shot down by the enemies that hose down fire on the player as they expect him to run.

What this boils down to is what could be best described as a battlefield racing game. The player often finds that completing single player missions comes down to simply moving across an invisible line, which forces the AI allies to rush forward and kill all of the infinitely respawning enemies. This means that the player is literally running around, picking off particularly dangerous enemies, and trying to run forward and smash themselves into some cover before the enemy they just killed respawns from a bunker. Often times, this is how most missions are completed. The alternative is playing the game on normal difficulty, which basically makes the player bulletproof.

While World at War covers many iconic moments of the second World War, such as Russian sharpshooting and the final battles with the Japanese, it simply still fails to be any more than a standard fare shooter. The weapons are still historically inaccurate, being that MP40s, STG44s and FG42s are still deployed in large numbers across the standard German army. The games characters are still clichés, none more so than Sergeant Roebuck, the stereotypical sergeant giving orders. He seems to be a man who is self absorbed with misery, one who probably watched a bit too many film noir flicks. This is evident in the pre-mission “briefings” that he narrates, which all sound like Phillip Marlowe was narrating his experiences playing a Call of Duty game. Meanwhile, on the Russian side of things, your sergeant appears to be somewhat deeper, and the game almost manages to touch upon the issue of the Red Army slaughtering the Wehrmacht, but this is quickly obscured by the excessive usage of fake Russian accents and overrepresented Soviet patriotism.

The multiplayer of World at War fairs not much. It is essentially Call of Duty 4 multiplayer, which really involves running forward, and mowing down a couple of people before getting shot in the back by the reincarnations of the people you just killed, and respawn. In this fashion, it isn’t too hard to rack up a long kill streak without getting killed. There is almost no skilled required, since all it takes is a little fast thinking to stay alive and grab as many kills as you’d like. The multiplayer is a decidedly arcade styled experience, with instant respawns, easy kills and death, as well as a leveling system that really only takes a few hours to blast through. If you have the attention span of a 12 year old with ADD, then you might find the competitive multiplayer entertaining.

While it would be unfair to say that World at War is a terrible looking game, there are certainly many better looking ones. That said, WaW is typical of first person shooters, in that it tries very hard to cover up the many cosmetic flaws that exist. For example, all the wood and fabric textures in the game look amazing from afar, but quickly degrade in quality as one nears it. Another problem is that player characters often stand in unnatural and ridiculous first person shooter style stances, even in multiplayer, and this really detracts from the experience.

But alas, what good is this game at all? The hidden gem buried in the sorry excuse for a game that World At War calls itself, is a minigame known simply as Nazi Zombies. This minigame is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of Nazis have been turned into the living dead. Up to four players can fend off hordes of the undead as long as humanly possible (a long time), and this makes for a unique experience. The map packs offered on the Playstation Network all include additional Nazi Zombies packs, and while it may deplore some to spend any more money on World at War, the Nazi Zombies maps are worth it. Players purchase weapons with points made from killing zombies, and from repairing barricades to stall the entry of the undead. This mode is simply more fun, entertaining and replayable than anything else the game has to offer. While it may seem absurd to suggest this, Nazi Zombies might be worth the price of purchasing World at War, if not for the single player campaign or the competitive multiplayer, than for some insane zombie co-operative action.

It is while playing this minigame that one may come to the realization that there really wasn’t too much work done on the single player mode at all. It really feels simply like a skinned over Call of Duty 4, with some roughly rendered locals adding a little variety to otherwise mundane shooting segments. If it may seem like the game development team worked harder on the minigame than the actual game itself, than that’s probably because the Nazi Zombies mode is simply more polished than the rest of the game. In the end, perhaps the problem is that Call of Duty: World at War was marketed as a World War II shooter with a zombie minigame attached to it. What it really feels like is a zombie game with some World War II minigames attached to it.

Rating: 4/10

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Community review by Probester (January 10, 2010)

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